Former prisoner Adam shared at the 10th anniversary celebration how Invisible Walls helped him to be a better father and turn his life around so his children did not follow in his footsteps.
Lord Farmer, chair of an Independent Ministry of Justice Review, highlighted Invisible Walls as a “beacon of good practice” in his report, which stressed the importance of strengthening prisoners’ family ties in preventing reoffending and intergenerational crime.
Adam’s story illustrates what this looks like in practice. He turned to crime after a childhood of neglect. By 14, he had become a father in the midst of a relationship so abusive that his partner hospitalised him several times. He was also arrested for burglary, violence and public order offences. Adam says, “By the time I was 22 my second son was born and I had served 6 prison sentences.”
He arrived in HMP Winchester in 2012. By now he was 30 and had a third child, a six-month-old baby.
So began his journey with Spurgeons’ Invisible Walls, which Adam says helped him learn more about parenting, his role as a dad and that he was an important part of his children’s lives. “I was so fortunate to be able to have family day visits with my son and the continued support of the wonderful Spurgeons team.” He says by the time he was released, he was already a changed person – and, for the first time he was prepared to engage with the services around him, because he could see how they could help him continue along that path of positive change.
With support from his Probation Officer, Adam completed a community course, took up sport, kicked drugs and became a volunteer with the drug and alcohol service. He had a job he loved, engaging other in rehabilitation, he had a flat and regularly saw his three sons. “I looked at the world in a new way and it was infectious.”
Adam was worried about his older sons with their unstable home life.
He says, “…Now I believed I could be a positive influence and that as a father I had power and a responsibility… I became a voice for them.” With help from Spurgeons, his Probation Officer and other professionals, the boys came to live with him. “I was astonished that the professionals…treated me as a valued voice and a positive option for my children…(they) had belief and confidence in who I had become.”
Since then, Adam has gained qualifications and is now a Youth Offending Service Case Manager. His boys have gone on to college and employment. Adam believes it’s a huge testament to the support he received from Spurgeons and other professionals that the boys have taken such a positive path instead of following him into crime. He reflects, “Spurgeons were vital in changing the course of my life, my children’s and the generations to come… I thank you from the bottom of my heart for what you have done for me and my family.”
Spurgeons Invisible Walls service won the 2016 Children and Young People Now Award for the Family Support Category for its work with prisoners and their families.
To learn more about Spurgeons’ work in Prisons and the Invisible Walls service, click here.